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Mission Agency President seeks a church-wide fundraising campaign

Noting ‘the world has changed so much,” Moffett asks PMA Board for a larger, wider fundraiser than the $4 million version recommended for Stony Point Center

by Mike Ferguson | Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett is president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. (Photo by Rich Copley)

LOUISVILLE — What started out as a Presbyterian Mission Agency Board discussion on the feasibility of launching a $4 million fundraising campaign for Stony Point Center grew into something much larger in the end.

After CCS Fundraising completed its presentation Friday on how a Stony Point Center fundraising campaign might proceed, the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, president and executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, said that “the world has changed so much” since the study was completed about a month ago.

“We will be needing to think about something much larger than Stony Point,” she said of any fundraising campaign that PMA undertakes in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I recommend we pause on moving forward given our current context. We will need to explore a church-wide campaign that will encourage us as a church to give on every level to strengthen and fortify the church.”

“This is not to say we won’t move forward on this,” Moffett told the board. “Stony Point can be part of a larger campaign. But given where we are as a church, I’d like to explore a denomination-wide campaign” that will be vetted with agencies, synods and presbyteries “and certainly would include Stony Point. Given where we are with the pandemic, I think that would be the wiser recommendation at this time.”

After board member the Rev. Nicholas Yoda asked what a wider campaign might look like, Moffett said it will first provide for “a pause for a moment to breathe.” The campaign she envisions would be a church-wide campaign in which mid councils, agencies, Stony Point (the designated home for furthering the Matthew 25 invitation) “and the entire structure of the church can come together to try to raise money,” Moffett said. “Each of us would pour into that pot, then explore how we can give it back to the church.”

Giving is down significantly over the last month or so, she said, and “we want to see how we can recover from that.”

Moffett suggested taking the information from CCS Fundraising, as presented Friday by the company’s senior vice president, Tim Nurvala, “and look at what it will take to expand our effort and rally our church so we can decide collectively.”

At this point, Moffett told the board, “we don’t have the same kind of sustainability we had before COVID-19,” which she said “has wrecked our economy.”

“How do we get everyone involved and raise enough money to strengthen the structures of our church?” she asked. “It’ll be a large undertaking … We have got to explore a larger reach in terms of funding for the entire church. That’s what my recommendation is.”

Board Member Patsy Smith noted that pandemics “take a long time to recover from — not just the illness, but the economy.”

After voting to accept the CCS Fundraising study and allow Moffett and other PMA senior staff to incorporate the study’s findings in order to pursue other fundraising opportunities, the board then went into closed session to discuss personnel and property matters related to Stony Point Center.

During his presentation, Nurvala, of CCS Fundraising, uncovered some facts that could well enhance a larger fundraising campaign. Using data analytics, the firm identified 498 top financial prospects, many of whom live in the New York City, San Francisco Bay and Southern California areas as well as Texas, Florida and other East Coast states. These donors collectively have in recent years given $2.5 million to PMA, Stony Point Center, or both. Their estimated giving capacity is between $157 million and $225 million, Nurvala said.

“They are definitely worth cultivating,” he said. “The prospects are there.”

According to the CCS Fundraising study, 86 percent of the people researchers spoke with would make a gift to a campaign, although the questions they are asked were relative to the proposed Stony Point Center fundraiser.

Respondents cited Moffett’s leadership, the high-quality programs and ministries of PMA and its mission and vision as PMA’s most significant strengths.

“There have been some important needs raised, and I’d love to be part of that conversation,” said the Rev. Rosemary Mitchell, senior director of Mission Engagement & Support. “Let’s get together and talk about where the church is going. Can we communicate that to the whole church? There are Presbyterians with the capacity to give.”

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